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From Denmark: The Index Awards

If the road could talk to you, what would it say–Dutch Smart Highway by Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure.

The 2013 INDEX awards were announced in Denmark recently and from 59 finalists there were several winning Designs to Improve Life.

  • Rasberry Pie: a $25 computer for digitalizing the whole world
  • the Natalie Collection: a birth simulating learning kit, practical hands-on training for impoverished communities suffering from high child and maternal mortality
  • Fresh Paper: spice-infused paper keeps produce fresh 4 times longer

A few interesting stats about the award:

The award is given once every two years, and since 2005 they’ve recieved 3,600 nominations (from more than 80 countries). I’m actually surprised that number of nominations isn’t higher, but maybe we need to get the word out. Anyone can nominate themselves or others, without charge.

The awards are split into five categories–body, home, work, play and community. One prize worth €100,000 is awarded in each category.

Entries should address larege-scale challenges faced today or in the near future and judging is by an international jury on three criteria: Form, Impact, and Context.

The patron of the award is The Crown Prince of Denmark.

Whether your students enter design competitions as part of assignments or not, most will enter design competitions at some point in their studies or careers. Increasingly competitions aim to act like INDEX in terms of “improving life.” A key question that designers have to ask themselves is whether these competitions are a good use of time.

My book Architecture & Design versus Consumerism presents more of this debate in terms of design competitions as forms of activism, a way of organizing and focusing attention on key issues. Putting students in a position of judging a design competition–whether using an actual case such as INDEX’s finalists, or situation you create for them– can give them new, informative perspectives.

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